Karl Rove has got to be nervous.
The man who last year advised Republican candidates to "focus on
war" is finding out that the Bush doctrine of pre-emption cannot
Now, General Rove will have to watch Democratic candidates focus
We're getting into very volatile territory in the Middle
As Paul Bremer admitted last week, the cost of the Iraq adventure
is going to be spectacular: $2 billion for electrical demands and
$16 billion to deliver clean water.
We're losing one or two American soldiers every day. Saddam and
Osama are still lurking and scheming — the "darkness which may be
After a car bomb exploded outside a Najaf mosque on Friday,
killing scores of people, including the most prominent pro-American
Shiite cleric, we may have to interject our troops into an
internecine Shiite dispute — which Saddam's Baathist guerrillas are
no doubt stoking.
With Iraqis in Najaf screaming, "There is no order! There is no
government! We'd rather have Saddam than this!," we had one more
ominous illustration that the Bush team is out of its depth and
divided against itself.
You can't conduct a great historical experiment in a petty and
bickering frame of mind. The agencies of the Bush administration are
behaving like high school cliques. The policy in Iraq is paralyzed
almost to the point of nonexistence, stalled by spats between the
internationalists and unilateralists, with the national security
director, Condoleezza Rice, abnegating her job as policy
The State Department will have to stop sulking and being in
denial about the Pentagon running the show in Iraq. And the Pentagon
will have to stop being dogmatic, clinging to the quixotic notion
that it only wants to succeed with its streamlined force and its
trompe l'oeil coalition. Rummy has to accept the magnitude of the
task and give up running the Department of Defense the way a
misanthropic accountant would.
Big deeds need big spirits. You can't have a Marshall Plan and a
tax cut at the same time.
It has also now become radiantly clear that we have to drag Dick
Cheney out of the dark and smog. Less Hobbes, more Locke.
So far, American foreign policy has been guided by the vice
president's gloomy theories that fear and force are the best
motivators in the world, that war is man's natural state and that
the last great superpower has sovereign authority to do as it
pleases without much consultation with subjects or other
We can now see the disturbing results of all the decisions Mr.
Cheney made in secret meetings.
The General Accounting Office issued a report last week noting
that the vice president shaped our energy policy with clandestine
advice from "petroleum, coal, nuclear, natural gas, electricity
industry representatives and lobbyists."
Favoritism to energy pals led to last week's insane decision to
gut part of the Clean Air Act and allow power plants, refineries and
other industrial sites to belch pollutants.
Another Bush-Cheney energy crony is Anthony Alexander of Ohio's
Corporation, which helped trigger the blackout after failing
to upgrade its transmission system properly since deregulation. He
was a Bush Pioneer, having raised at least $100,000 for the
This logrolling attitude has led to the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers allowing Halliburton — which
made Mr. Cheney a rich man with $20 million worth of cashed-in stock
— to get no-bid contracts in Iraq totaling $1.7 billion, and that's
just a start.
All this, and high gas prices, too?
When he wasn't meeting secretly with energy lobbyists, Mr. Cheney
was meeting secretly with Iraqi exiles. The Iraqi National Congress
leader Ahmad Chalabi and other defectors conned Mr. Cheney, Rummy
and the naïve Wolfowitz of Arabia by playing up the danger of
Saddam's W.M.D.'s and playing down the prospect of Iraqi resistance
to a U.S. invasion.
According to The Los Angeles Times, U.S. and allied intelligence
agencies are investigating to see if they were duped by Iraqi
defectors giving bogus information to mislead the West before the
Some intelligence officials "now fear that key portions of the
prewar information may have been flawed," the story said. "The issue
raises fresh doubts as to whether illicit weapons will be found in
Karl Rove has got to be nervous.